Thursday, May 12, 2016

Discovering Gideon's Way

I have a new weakness - or rather I have revived an old one.

The Gideon stories were a series of police procedurals written, under the pen name J.J. Maric, by the extraordinarily prolific John Creasey between 1955 and 1976.

For some reason I took to them while I was at school even though they were already dating markedly by then.

Now I have discovered that the whole of the Gideon's Way TV series has been uploaded to Youtube. There were 26 of them made for ITV and broadcast in 1965 and 1966.

John Gregson took the title role, playing him as a world-weary liberal who sometimes had to reign in his keener subordinates - a sort of prototype for Morse and Wexford.

Gideon's family feature regularly. Political trivia fans may like to note that his younger son was played by Giles Watling, who was the unsuccessful Conservative candidate against Ukip's Douglas Carswell in the 2014 Clacton by-election.

One of the pleasures of Gideon's Way is spotting familiar actors in unfamiliar roles. I have watched only a few of the shows so far, but already I have seen Inspector Wexford masterminding a bullion robbery, Mrs Bridges from Upstairs Downstairs running a gang of pickpockets and fences, and Arthur Daley committing arson,

Then there are the pleasures of spotting actors on the way up.

This, for instance, is a young John Hurt on the run from prison. (You can see an even younger Hurt on this blog as an undergraduate in The Wild and the Willing.)

And this young man is now in the House of Lords. It's Michael Cashman, formerly of EastEnders and the European Parliament, in his first role. At this stage of his career his chief means of conveying emotion was hunching his shoulders.

Above all, though, there are the pleasures of the location footage. This is London before turbocapitalism and moral relativism. It's a city of quiet suburbs and decaying warehouses where the villains are cornered and the police inevitably round them up.


Philip Wilkinson said...

Fascinating. I've often seen the books in secondhand bookshops and wondered if they were any good.

Frank Little said...

There was also a feature film, Gideon's Day, with Jack Hawkins in the lead and a host of British acting talent in the small parts. It had an excellent script by Tibby Clarke and would stand a TV repeat, I feel.

Phil Beesley said...

Monthly short story collections such as Suspense or Ellery Queen's published work from both sides of the Atlantic in the 1950s. Mostly awful rather than awesome, but worth a dip for a few quid.